Henning Streubel, Linda Klein, and Mark Harris Discuss Why It’s Time To Get Great At Business Development with Mo Bunnell

Mo asks Henning Streubel: When was the moment that growth and business development was something you wanted to focus on?

  • Henning is intrinsically motivated to help people, but it’s less about business development and sales. Whenever he meets someone, he has a tendency to ask deep questions.
  • Early in his career working for a utility client in Germany, he realized that the client’s company had many more problems than he initially thought which he discovered by simply having a deep conversation.
  • Because of those conversations, the client was able to take Henning’s thoughts and ideas back to her boss and make positive changes.
  • For Henning, relationship development starts with insights, which allows you to create an impact and trust.
  • Many highly analytical people have difficulty talking about anything outside of the project. Henning recommends understanding that everyone is a human being which means they share a common foundation.
  • Being genuine about being curious is key. Don’t just use small talk as a way to open a conversation.
  • Follow up on the topics and go deeper. This shows your interest in them as a human being.
  • Establishing a personal relationship makes connecting with them easier outside the context of the work. It creates an entry point that lets you have the impact you want to have.
  • When you open up on your experience, you become more vulnerable and that creates a better foundation for trust. This was something that Henning had to learn and practice. Having a few stories in your back pocket can make it easier.


Mo asks Linda Klein: When was the moment that you realized that growth was great?

  • Linda separates the ideas of business development and building a relationship. In the beginning of Linda’s career as a lawyer, she spent a lot of time learning about her client’s business and that relationship building always paid off.
  • It’s not about developing the business, it’s about developing the relationship.
  • Linda tells the story of how her grandfather started a grocery business in the early days of the Great Depression, how understanding and getting to know the people in the community became a crucial reason for their success, how that also inspired Linda and how she built her career.
  • When meeting new people, Linda is always looking for the things outside the day-to-day business relationship that are important to them. There is always a place where you can connect.
  • It’s important to be hireable and to share your expertise, but it’s more important to be human first.
  • Start with something relatable instead of leading with your area of expertise and what services you can offer. The number one correlation to likeability is commonality. Always look for the common areas you can connect on.
  • Every conversation and interaction you have will be different, but the person you’re speaking with will always give you clues. By offering details and asking for details, you’re going to find areas of commonality.
  • It’s extremely important for diverse members of your team to feel like they can find areas to connect.


Mo asks Mark Harris: Tell me a story of when you realized that you needed to focus on business development.

  • Mark takes us back to the summer of 1994 when he took on a job selling books door-to-door, a path that some of the most successful rainmakers have followed.
  • It started off as a way to make more money than working at the local McDonald’s but it became a skill that Mark learned he could get better at.
  • All skills are both learned and earned. Mark was initially not good at sales at all and after 12 hours of hearing no, he decided to flip his approach and try to make a connection with the person first.
  • He also learned that he needed to create little wins throughout the day to manage his energy and motivation.
  • The steps to a purchase are the same no matter what you’re selling. Connect with the person first and find out if you can solve their needs.
  • Mark also learned how to deal with his emotions at that time, and when he figured out how to do that he became a lot more relatable and fun to be around.
  • That whole first summer was all about being more relatable to people immediately after meeting them. After a couple sales, Mark figured out what he was really providing people with, and it wasn’t a book. When he took the focus off the money and made it about helping the other person, the sale became much easier.
  • By breaking the process into each individual piece, Mark created a series of small wins that were under his control. Even a rejection can be a learning experience.
  • When you put yourself outside your comfort zone, you become more capable emotionally of handling the experience and more likely to overcome the next hurdle, and every hurdle you jump builds your confidence.
  • Think about what you can do every single day to get you closer to your ultimate win. You don’t know when your next sale is going to happen, but if you can focus on what you can control it will happen.



Mentioned in this Episode:



on.bcg.com/henning – Use the envelope icon on this page to get in touch with Henning directly





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